Where did we last leave off?
Ah yes, now I remember …
Last week I made the bold decision to leave the state of Ohio – never to return again. (Well that is a BIG lie. Being an Ohio State alumni and a wickedly obsessed Buckeye football fan, it is guaranteed that I will return on multiple occasions for games. Moving on …)
And so last Monday I packed up my car with only my essentials and embarked upon a road trip to my new home in Orlando, FL. First stop was a Twitter friend‘s house in Downington, PA – complete with a VIP tour of Victory Brewing Co. as well as my first experience eating BACON! (Another story for another time!)
This brings us to day two. A day that will forever live in Beer Wench infamy. The day I toured my favorite craft brewery in the whole entire country. The day I met Sir Hopsalot. The day I visited DOGFISH HEAD BREWERY!!!
Luckily, I had a good friend from college that lived about a hour north Milton, DE – where the Dogfish Head Brewery is located. He offered to join me on the tour and then crash at his place. In return, I treated him to dinner and drinks at the Dogfish Head Brewpub in Rehoboth Beach, DE. The brewpub experience deserves a blog of its own. SO, without further ado, I present to you …
Wenchie’s Dogfish Head Brewery tour!!!
THE DOGFISH HEAD BREWERY … (and yes, I am peeing in my pants – correction – I am peeing in my spandex leggings right about now)
CHALK BOARD on the wall at the entrance listing all the beers that DFH is featuring on tap at the brewpub.
GIGANTIC BANNER advertising Dogfish Head’s newest ale creation – Theobroma. Ironically, this beer had just been bottled THE DAY BEFORE I arrived and was neither available for tasting nor sale. BUMMER man.
The LIST OF BEERS we were going to taste (for free!!!) after the brewery tour. (It was enough incentive to keep my mouth shut and ask as few questions as possible! Lucky for me, I am very familiar with the Dogfish Head story, beers and brewing process – so I had no questions!) Mmm … MIDAS TOUCH on DRAFT! SCORE!
Our SUPER AWESOME tour guide Jill. She was a total stud. She told us that out of th 1,400 craft breweries in the United States, Dogfish Head is currently the 25th largest.
Jill also informed us that Dogfish Head is known for two huge differentiating factors:
ONE: Dogfish Head uses more HOPS PER BARREL than ANY other brewery in the world.
TWO: Dogfish Head is infamous for adding unique and exotic ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS to their ales.
I want you to meet my little friend, SIR HOPS A LOT. Are you familiar with Dogfish Head’s infamous line of IPAs? Aka … the 60 minute IPA, the 90 minute IPA and the OH SO COVETED 120 minute IPA? Do you know how they got their names?
Dogfish Head is the ONLY brewing company that continuously hops its beer. This is because its founder and owner, Sam Caglione, INVENTED and TRADEMARKED the continuous hopping process.
Typically, brewers only add hops during two points of the brewing process – once in the beginning and then again at the end. Once upon a time, Sam was watching a cooking show and the chef was preparing soup. The chef on the show emphasized the importance of slowly and continuously adding the pepper throughout the cooking process. He said that continuously peppering the soup would yield better flavor than just adding it all at once.
And then a light bulb went off in Sam’s head … instead of adding the hops all at once, why not try to continuously hop the beer over a set period of time? This is how the 60 minute ale was born. The first time Sam brewed 60 Minute IPA used an old vibrating tabletop football game that he found at a garage sale. He put the game over the brew kettle and covered the surface with hops. The little plastic football players shook and spun their way down the field, continuously distributing hops into the kettle over a 60 minute time period.
Obviously, an old plastic game from the 80’s was not the most efficient tool for the continuous hopping process. So Sam decided to build his own apparatus to do the job. The first model was SIR HOPS A LOT.
This is me and my new boy friend – SIR HOPS A LOT
Sign on the ORIGINAL KEGGING LINE
Sign on the ORIGINAL BOTTLING LINE
Mmm roasted barley …
Jill explaining how Dogfish Head sends its used mash to local farmers, who feed it to their cattle. AND THEN, Dogfish Head buys the cattle meat for the steaks and burgers at the brewpub. Circle of life anyone?
Dogfish Head’s current brewing line … where the magic starts!
THE HEAT EXCHANGER! This system is freaking awesome. Before it can be fermented, the wort must first be cooled down to yeast pitching temperature. The large steel barrels are filled with cold water. The super hot wort flows through the pipes in the barrels of cold water which yields 2 results: 1. the wort is cooled and 2. the water in the steel barrels are heated.
Dogfish Head then uses the hot water to produce more wort. Since boiling large quantities of water takes a lot of energy, this heat exchanger saves a HUGE amount of energy.
Dogfish Head also has its own water wells on site and does not require water from any other sources. All “waste” water (from cleaning etc.) goes to the local farmers for irrigation. NEAT-O!
UH OH. Wenchie found the barrel of Dogfish Head 120 IPA – aka THE HOLY GRAIL FOR HOPHEADS. SAVE SOME FOR THE OTHERS!
Other interesting tidbits about Dogfish Head:
-Dogfish Head has 4 different labs with 3 full time quality insurance employees (Yes, we are talking about every beer drinker’s dream job – the tasters. That is all they do … taste beer … PHENOMENAL BEER … ALL DAY. Ahhh the life!)
-Every batch of Dogfish Head beer is tasted 40 times
-Due to its inability to keep up with the high demand, Dogfish Head is only able to ship 30% of its beer orders
-Dogfish Head is available in 28 states
-Dogfish Head has 24 varieties of yeast in the house and posses the ability to propagate its own yeast
-Dogfish Head just added new fermenters in the last 8 weeks. In order to get them into the brewery, the roof had to be removed and the fermenters were flown in by helicopter.
My tasting cup with Dogfish Head Punkin Ale. After this we tasted Midas Touch, 60 Minute and Indian Brown Ale. And yes, they were all as wonderful as you can imagine!
Punkin was my first pumpkin ale of the season. It was not as spicy and a little more creamy than past versions. All in all, it was ABSOLUTELY delicious.
For me, the biggest highlight was being able to taste Midas Touch on draft. Although it is a year round beer, it can be extremely limited and hard to obtain. And forget about finding it on draft … impossible! It was quite an extraordinary treat!
Me and the truck that got Sam Caglione and Dogfish Head to where they are today!
WHEW! What an amazing tour … but my Dogfish Head experience didn’t stop here! Stay tuned for my next blog on my brewpub experience!